Nick of the North

Upping the ante up the Shore

Nick Ortloff - Wednesday, May 27, 2015


The craft beer scene along Minnesota's Northshore continues to grow. This movement has finally reached Grand Marais in the form of a brewpub set up at the Gunflint Tavern. Today I have their Red Rock Rye, which it their Rye IPA offering at the time of writing this.


The beer pours a dark brown color with a nice khaki colored head and some good lacing.
The flavor profile starts out with a solid caramel malt backbone and floral-piney hop profile before opening up with some chocolate notes and, of course, rye. The rye element of the flavor is by no means overwhelming and compliments the rest of the flavor quite nicely.

If you ever find yourself in Grand Marais, be sure to check these guys out. They make some great beer and I'll be very interested to see what they will do in the future!

Monk with my Heart

Nick Ortloff - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring is finally here, so what better way to acknowledge this change in seasons than with some beer! For that, we'll be drinking Bohemian Pilsner from Lazy Monk Brewing in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. And get this, Leos Frank, the brewmaster, is a native of the Czech Republic himself so we're getting the real deal here!


The aroma starts out with some strong yeastiness and equally strong pilsner maltiness. There is also some pale maltiness and a touch of bitter hops thrown in for good measure. This beer reminds me of smelling freshly baked bread.

The flavor is much like the nose in that it's very pilsner-malt and yeast buttery biscuit forward. There's also some pale maltiness & light hoppiness in the back.

Between the simple yet delicious flavor and easy drinkability, this is arguably one of the best springtime beers that one could have right now. If you're ever in the Eau Claire area, then this place is certainly worth a visit!


I Scream for Ice Cream Beer!

Nick Ortloff - Sunday, January 25, 2015

Back in November at a tasting party for Angry Inch Brewing, I connected with Nic Brau, Brewmaster for Maple Island Brewing. While I was talking with him, I got to learn about Maple Island Brewing and he invited me to check out the brewery whenever I got the chance. So a couple weeks ago, I stopped by to check the place out while I was in the Twin Cities. For starters, the brewery is located along Main Street in Downtown Stillwater, MN and is right next door to Northern Vineyards Winery (An excellent winery if you have not been there yet!) I have to say that the taproom overlooking the St. Croix River is truly a sight to behold and the interior design of the taproom itself is visually pleasing. The music was great and it fit the Saturday Afternoon atmosphere perfectly.

As for the beer, I opted for a flight of beer and was quite impressed with what I had. However, there was one beer in particular Nic had told me about that I went there for. He made a beer using ice cream from locally owned Nelson's Ice Cream, which is located up the hill from Maple Island. The beer itself is appropriately named "I Scream."
He used 60 lbs of peanut butter, chocolate and caramel ice cream during the brewing process and my thoughts are this: It's like a peanut butter cup in beer form and I love it! In fact, I'd go as far to say that this is a textbook example of how to do a dessert beer correctly.

All and all, I enjoyed my visit to Maple Island and I was impressed with what Nic had brewed up. This place will definitely be on my radar the next time I have a chance to visit. If so happen to find yourself in that neck of the woods, I would highly recommend checking out Maple Island Brewing.

In Case You Don't Know Jack.

Nick Ortloff - Sunday, January 04, 2015

A couple weeks ago, I was visiting family in Brainerd when I decided to pay a visit to the Jack Pine Brewery, located in the adjacent town of Baxter, MN. Jack Pine has been open for a couple of years now and they are only available right now in the Brainerd Lakes area but they hope to expand in the next few years.

Just like the website says, the brewery is quite small. The taproom itself is definitely on the smaller side when compared to the likes of Indeed, 612 Brew or Castle Danger but it's cozy. On top of that, all the brewing kettles, tanks, etc. are all visible from the taproom and it reminded me of Lake Superior's taproom.

The beer was, as expected, fantastic. They had everything from an American Pale Ale to a Cream Ale and even an Oatmeal Stout. Of all the beers I had, by far my favorite of the bunch was their Trespass Porter, which is a porter aged in Whiskey; A perfect fit for the cold winter weather.

They're also on tap at various locations in the Brainerd Lakes area, which is listed on their website. Either way, I would highly recommend checking this place out!

The Lovable Old Man

Nick Ortloff - Thursday, December 11, 2014

Well, winter has finally arrived here in the Northland. As the days get colder and darker, so do the beers. Today I will be showing off the winter seasonal release from Lake Superior Brewing which is aptly named Old Man Winter Warmer. Despite the name, this is actually barleywine style ale and not a traditional Winter Warmer style-ale.

The flavor starts out a with a nice strong smoked malt taste before transitioning to a nice candied caramel malt & dark licorice sweetness. The aftertaste is a mix of caramel and smoked malts with a light bitter hoppiness.
The things I enjoy about this beer is that it has a robust flavor profile and yet at the same time, is very reasonably priced, Be sure to pick yourself up a six pack of this as it will no doubt warm you up during the coldest winter nights.

11th, or Any Hour.

Nick Ortloff - Monday, November 17, 2014

For today's post, I bring to you a beer from Crow Peak Brewing Company, which is located all the way in Spearfish, South Dakota. The beer in question is their 11th Hour IPA, which is one of the brewery's year round offerings.
The aroma has a nice floral & citrus hop profile that blends nicely with the toffee & caramel malt backbone
Like the aroma, the flavor possesses a nice citrus & floral hop profile upfront that finishes with a nice toffee malt and light apricot sweetness.
The palate is pretty moderate both in terms of weight and carbonation. It's not too light or too heavy but just right!
11th Hour is one of those beers that I can drink all day. Its got a nice flavor profile that, while not overwhelming, has got enough push behind it to make it an easy recommendation for fans of the IPA style. 

Pumpkin Fork-lore

Nick Ortloff - Monday, November 03, 2014

Well, we're on the last legs of fall before winter decides to rear it's ugly head. So why not finish the fall off with Patch Pumpkin Ale. This beer comes from Pitchfork Brewing, which is a brewery based out of Hudson, Wisconsin. Whenever I'm in the Twin Cities, I try to make my way over there at least once to get a growler fill (or two) as well as checking out their latest selections, which is always changing on what seems to be a daily basis.

Patch Pumpkin pours a clear yet dark copper color with some mild visible carbonation.

The nose starts out with some pumpkin notes which is backed up with a warming aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, spices and mild hoppiness.

The flavor starts out with some pumpkin and nutmeg notes before transitioning to a nice yeasty, cinnamon and mildly hoppy finish. The cinnamon-spice aspect of the flavor are nicely balanced and work with the other elements of the taste, rather than overtake them.

Patch Pumpkin Ale is a nicely balanced beer that is sure to please any craft beer drinker. Even those who aren't exactly fans of Pumpkin Beers will probably find something to like about this beer.

A Wisconsin Tart

Nick Ortloff - Tuesday, October 28, 2014



For this featured beer, we have an offering from New Glarus Brewing Company, which is located in New Glarus, WI. Every couple of months, they release a new beer in their Thumbprint Series. For this release, they have given us Cran-Bic, which is a cranberry Lambic that is aged in oak barrels

The nose is very cranberry forward with some strong lacto notes. I'm also picking on some oak notes, which no doubt comes from the barrels that were used to age this beer.

The flavor is surprisingly sweet upfront with some sweet cranberry notes with moderately tart lacto taste. The oak isn't as prevalent in the flavor but it does provide some dimension to the actual taste.

New Glarus has crafted what I consider to be a solid Lambic. If you're in Wisconsin and you so happen to stumble upon this, check it out!

Lil' LynLake Love

Nick Ortloff - Monday, October 20, 2014



Last weekend while I was heading down to Minneapolis, I was looking at my Facebook feed when I noticed a place called LynLake Brewery had just opened its doors the day before. Since I'm always looking for new craft beer to try out, I decided I would check it out.

The next day I made my way there and I noticed that it was about two storefronts down from The Herkimer, a well known brewpub in Uptown. 

From the outside, it looks like a rustic old theater complete with an old marquee. Upon entering the taproom, I was impressed with not only how enormous it was, but how that Uptown decor and old theater feel blended so seamlessly together

As of writing, they have six selections on tap and it covers a good range, from a blonde ale all the way to a stout. Of all the beers that had on tap, my favorite by far was the Sideburns Milk Stout. It's got a nice rich chocolate and lactose flavor with a sweet chocolate malt and light roasty aftertaste. 

As of right now, they don't offer growlers but they've just opened so hopefully that will change in the near future. If you ever are in Minneapolis, I would highly recommend checking this place out.








High Five for Sky-Five

Nick Ortloff - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This week's featured beer comes a new brewery called Bauhaus Brew Labs, which just opened its doors in Northeast Minneapolis this past summer. My focus today will be on their Sky-Five IPA, which I just had to share with our readers!

The aroma is a mixture of rich orange peels, grapefruits, piney hops and some caramel and pale maltiness. This is a very citrusy IPA which has an aroma reminiscent of a glass or orange juice! 

The flavor has a very nice citrus hop profile on the front of the palate with some tropical fruity & grapefruit notes with some bitter piney hops on the back end of the palate. The aftertaste contains some bitter resin hoppiness, a slight orange sweetness and some pale malts.

The body is moderate in terms of weight but its very lightly carbonated. The easy drinkability pairs well with the overall flavor.

With its robust citrus hop profile and easy drinkability, don't be surprised if this becomes a hit with the craft drinking crowd. If you're in the area, it's well worth checking out. 



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